Sunday, January 31, 2010

Snowy Saturday

I could lie and tell you that this last pic is me and Jace headed down the hill together- but nope, I was just holding the camera. That's the principal of his middle school--I think the kids think she's a pretty cool principal already, and I'm sure she just went up a couple more degrees in Jace's book, out there sledding with the kids.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Snowy Saturday

Oh, I'm glad it is Saturday! Even though we had a lot of snow (6 to 8 inches, is my unofficial estimate), I was up fairly early at 8AM, let the doggies out and back in, and headed out to take care of my Saturday morning errands. Was looking forward to checking in at Weight Watchers because I think I've had a pretty good week, and am down a couple of pounds. But apparently the WW staff and leaders were taking a snow day, or at least a snow morning, because the door was locked and lights were off at 9:30. So, I guess I'll have to go back tomorrow or Monday.

Now we're finishing laundry (me), viola practice (Jace) and a few other things before heading out to the nearby elementary school to let Jace and a friend hit the slopes with their sleds. The snow is that awesome powdery kind that's perfect for sledding, AND it is warm enough today for him to enjoy sledding without getting too cold. Will be bringing my camera to capture the fun!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I Got Got Got Got No Time...

(Chorus "No Time" by The Guess Who, 1970)

Ever had a week where you feel like poor ol' Rocko here!?? This is me in a nutshell lately... just a crazy time at work, at home, and in general! Don't get me wrong, it hasn't been a bad couple of weeks, just BUSY! Here's a few pics to sum up the last week and a half:

Now he's a METAL MOUTH (kidding! what a cutie)




SHARING FINANCIAL PEACE - on 3rd week of class

Add 40+ hours of work, Junior League meetings, Jace's basketball practice and games, keeping up with housework (not very successfully), and finding time for a date night with hubby (Saturday night, Japanese steakhouse, yum!) and it is easy to see why I've not posted a thing in over a week. Looking forward to a pretty quiet weekend, and some time to catch up!


Thursday, January 21, 2010

If You Know Me, You're Not Surprised...

There's a lot of things that I don't do so well, but boy howdy, I CAN spell. Hubby likes to joke that I used to send his love letters back with corrections - he jests, of course. What really happened is that a few dates in I confessed to him that I really took notice of the fact that his emails to me were spelled correctly and used proper grammar. He's never let me live that down (he owes it mostly to spellcheck, apparently, but hey - at least he uses it). Grammar nerd, grammar Nazi, whatever you want to call me. It is just a pet peeve of mine.

The Twitter Spelling Test

Created by Oatmeal

I got this quiz from another blogger, Karen; check out her post, I loved it! Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I have had a post planned, about my new Canon (digital but not SLR) camera and my research on REALLY learning how to use it, not just point-and-shoot on AUTO, like I always have before... I figure I might get a little feedback and tips from at least one reader (my girl Lucas!)... but more on that another day when I have the time and energy.

Tired tonight, and it is only Tuesday. Jace had a basketball game at 5:30, which I took him to and had to leave halfway through for a task force meeting that lasted from 6pm until almost 9:30... this is a Junior League task force and it has been meeting for a year and a half, on restructuring the board. It has been a LONG process, and more than once I've considered stepping down because of time, but we are almost done. And, I've gotten some great experience on really reading, interpreting and changing bylaws and policies for a non-profit board, which is a helpful skillset to have under my belt. But, true to my post about my growth in 2009, I'm not signing up for additional leadership duties when this is done - I'm wrapping this up and not putting something else in its place. Well, maybe I'm considering praise band at church, but that's not the same thing... that's using my musical talent, a different side of my brain - we'll see what happens!

My college roomie "T" is coming in town on Thursday, and I'm looking forward to drinks/dinner with her. She's in final interviews for a TV reporter position here in Springpatch, so it would be great to have her back here. At the very least we'll enjoy catching up Thursday night, but hopefully she gets the job and I'll see her a lot more.

Dave's traveling more every week, with a new position as VP of sales in his company. Once he gets his sales reps in his two offices up and running the travel will decrease, but for now he is gone 3+ nights a week. We talked tonight about a date night this weekend, we both agreed it would be a really good thing. He is so tired when he gets home off the road, and really just likes to veg with his laptop and the TV, to wind down. But after he's had a chance to do that, it will be good to also have some time for just the two of us to catch up; looking forward to that on Saturday night.

Off to bed, an early morning meeting will be here before I know it.

Friday, January 15, 2010

In Their Shoes

Sometimes it is so easy to have a "poor me"day... when I've had problems at work, or my son is being a typical 'tween with an attitude, or, well, you know -- just fill in the blank with whatever it is that is stressful!! But then something happens to make me realize how insignificant all my problems are when compared with what some others experience every day.

Check out my friend Anne's post on her experience this week in a Poverty Simulation project, sponsored by local organization Ozarks Community Action Corporation. That's all I need to say; just read her post, and I think you'll agree she's given us all a little inspiration for this week by sharing her eye-opening experience.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Tastier Than a Peanut Butter & Banana Sandwich

I really wanted to come up with an Elvis song that would be make sense as the title of this post (you'll see why in a minute), but I got nothin'. Blue Suede Shoes? Nope. Heartbreak Hotel? Nada. Let's see, was there anything that he sang that would fit with a fun night and a great dinner? If YOU are more familiar with The King and can think of something that would fit, let me know. But all I'm remembering that's even close was Elvis' affinity for these weird sandwiches. And yes, our dinner was MUCH better than a pb & b sandwich (in my humble opinion!).

Saturday night was our turn to host dinner for some couples from our dock at the lake, and Dave was the star of the evening with his Italian feast. He fixed his eight-hour sauce, which is absolutely delish - meatballs, pork loin and beef ribs simmered in homemade spaghetti sauce for hours... yum! He also made eggplant parmesan and chicken parmesan to accompany the spaghetti - it was quite the feast!

This was only the third time he's fixed this meal in the 3+ years we've been together, so I was looking forward to it. It is quite a bit of work and prep, but our guests all loved it, & we had enough sauce left over for several more meals this week. My contribution to the evening's meal was a spinach salad with strawberries, kiwi and chopped walnuts, AND I picked up some cannolis from DiGiacinto's. It is one of our favorite places to eat, and the owner, Sam, fixed us up with four regular cannolis and four chocolate covered cannolis, all of which were devoured (Ok, yes, I had more than one. I'm horrible when it comes to good desserts!).

We enjoyed several bottles of wine over the course of the evening, our friends brought some great bottles of wine. And, in honor of Elvis' 75th birthday, we also opened a bottle that Dave had picked up a few weeks ago:

The jokes and the impersonations (thanks, Carl!) were better than the wine, but guess you can't expect too much out of an $8.00 bottle of Elvis' finest! I had to get a few shots of Rocky, he spent much of the evening in "hiding" under the table. He feels most comfortable where he is close to people but still safe and out of sight, silly dog.

Rocky was the only quiet one Saturday night, though; we all laughed and talked and enjoyed dinner and drinks for several hours. It was quite the evening, with plenty of wine and then someone (ahem, honey) broke out the shot glasses for some of the group.

What's so funny, Carl?

We were enjoying wine and chocolate cake - what a combo!

It was a great evening with some wonderful friends, and we also were so happy to have Paige join us for the latter part of the evening and stay through Sunday afternoon. She had been in Dallas visiting a friend, and Saturday night was one of the last nights that Dave would be able to see her (since he is traveling this week) before she leaves to go back to college on Wednesday.

This week has already been busy, with a meeting last night and then Jace getting braces today and having a basketball game tonight. His mouth is hurting tonight; I remember how it was getting braces, back when I was his age. I'm sure it will take him some time to get used to that mouth full of metal, poor guy! Time to get some dishes and laundry done, and get ready for another day.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Technology Milestone

OK, I just had my first conversation via text with my 11-year-old. Sitting here at my desk, and heard my little text notification on my blackberry, and there he was... "Hi mom, its Jace". He is home from school today, thanks to our winter temps of 5 degrees and below.

We cancelled our land line a few months ago, and went to a prepaid cell phone for our home phone, for Jace to have/use at home when we weren't there; it just made more sense, financially. But what they don't make clear is that those prepaid minutes you purchase? They expire every 30 days. Which stinks, when you buy $15 of minutes and don't even use $5 of them. When we realized this, we decided to instead just add another phone to our cell phone plan, which will be cheaper.

So, he and I have been texting back and forth all morning... he has never texted before, but he told me a couple of nights ago (when he found out that we would have unlimited texting) that he's watched Neil enough to see how it works (Neil's 15, so his cell is never far from his reach - texting ALL THE TIME!)... and sure enough, he's figured it out. I'm sure he'll soon be better and quicker at it than I am --- teenagers!!

Glad it is Friday, it has been a difficult week at work, and I'm ready for a couple days off. We're having dinner at our house for friends on Saturday night, and looking forward to it.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Whew, back to the grind, a five day work week - first one I've worked in several weeks! I've been working on this post for a couple of days, and just haven't had the time to get everything in here... And I have to get all the pics in here, for certain... that's the bloggity-blog feedback I heard from sis Annie, who vacationed with us in sunny Florida. She informed me that she would read my blog more often if I had more PICTURES, like our brother, Rob, does! Well, Annie, here it is, complete with a few pictures of you, so hope you enjoy!

We're home from spending four days in Florida, and brrrrr, with this freezing 2 degree weather here, we're ready to go back! Unfortunately, the weather in Florida was cooler than normal, but not near as cold as it was here in MO. The temps were in the 50s for most of our visit, and here's one of the main reasons why we were in beautiful, sunny Destin:

Dave, Neil and my BIL Matt had a great time fishing, even with the cold weather. What kind of fish is this, you ask? I'm not sure... apparently they caught some sheepshead, red fish, speckled trout, and also some bait fish (little guys that are then used to catch the BIG guys!) And Ann and I had to go to the harbor midday Saturday to meet them with some bait (a bag of sand fleas -blech!!) that they forgot in the freezer at the condo.

In addition to the fishing, there was a little of this:

I said a "little" of this, because you will notice that only one of us was in the water; it isn't surprising that an 11-year-old had no qualms when it came to the cold water, while the rest of us sensible (and boring) grownups only got wet up to our ankles! These were taken on our first full day there, when the weather was sunny and mid to upper 60s. Jace met some other kids from Indiana and had a great time in the surf.

We made it to the beach all three days we were there, and although it was too chilly to swim, it was still beautiful!

We had a quiet New Year's Eve; we all went to eat at a local restaurant, and then the five of us ended the evening at home, while Ann and Matt stayed and listened to a band and rang in the New Year. We enjoyed the rest of our meals in the condo, which was beautiful and roomy, with our own private hot tub on the roof.

It was a great time, and I was so glad that Paige and Neil could both go with us, despite their busy schedules. We will only have Paige at home for another couple of weeks and then she starts her second semester at Jewell. It was wonderful to have Ann and Matt join us; I thought it would be fairly close for them, but it was still an 8 hour drive from Charlotte NC, but I think they were glad they made the trip too.
Jace (not surprisingly) said the ocean was the best part of the trip, and he can't wait until we go again. Hopefully we will go again this summer, when it is much warmer!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

What a Difference a Year Makes....

As I have been writing this post, the title, an old song from the '50s, kept playing in my head... I realize the song is actually about the difference "a DAY" makes, but for my purposes here we'll stick with "a year". I began writing the paragrahs below a few days before 2009 came to a close, but it has been hard to find time to write over the last few days. What a year it has been, in so many ways. The media has talked a lot about all of the negative things that 2009 brought, and how 2010 will be better. And that's certainly true, I hope, for our economy, and our nation, and our world. For me, it has been a year of changes, and a year of growth; last year I had no idea how much my life would change in the next 365 days- in both big and small ways, but all have been very important.

At Christmas-time last year, my relationship with my husband was seemingly fine on the surface, but in retrospect it is easy to see just how very fractured it was - two very independent people who were not communicating, and leading totally separate lives in the same home. There's no need to go into a lot of detail, but on Christmas last year we separated and planned to divorce. Why would I even go there in this post? Only to say that things have turned around in an amazing way, and one that only God could make happen. The time apart was beneficial, for both of us; we both realized that we did want to work things out and stay married. We went through couples counseling for several months, and learned a lot about each other and ourselves, and how we best communicate. Things aren't perfect, but they are so much better, and I know we are both committed to working together and continuing to strengthen our relationship.

Financially, 2009 was a BIG year for me/us, and not because we hit the lottery (although wouldn't that be sweet!). Like many people, the economy had us concerned about debt, retirement and more. And then a simple conversation in mid-summer of this year (It started when I emailed Dave an article about getting out of credit card debt, and he replied back with a link to Dave Ramsey and said a coworker was going through the program) rocketed us into a whole new way of looking at our money and financial situation. We've made paying off debt a priority - downsizing to less expensive vehicles, stopping the frivolous day-to-day spending, and really controlling our finances instead of letting them control us. We bought the DVD kit for Financial Peace, and then also went through the 13-week class at a local church this summer/fall. Now we're helping to facilitate the same DVD series at our own church, starting in January.

Another area of personal growth for me this past year resulted from a decision to NOT do something. My family and a few close friends were aware that late this summer I was considering going back to school, to get my nursing degree/license. I have a Masters in Healthcare Administration, have been in my job in women's health for about eight years, and I love it. But I don't have a clinical background, which is a first for this position. The prior directors in my job have all been nurses. It really has been something of concern for me, although my boss has told me regularly that she thinks I worry way too much about it; that I bring so much to the job and I don't need to worry that I'm not a nurse.

Truth be told, I know these feelings run much deeper than nurse vs. non-nurse; I am constantly thinking about what I need to do to make myself "good enough"... never satisfied with what and who I am and think the way to improve is to volunteer for more, or get more education under my belt, or accrue more awards, or whatever else it is that will make me "better". And a nursing license was the thing that would boost me to that next level. So, off I went, gathering information on what it would take to go back to school. When I learned what it would take, my first thought was "I can do that"; but then I really started thinking, and praying about it. I know and believe I could do it - continue working and go to school for the next two years - but at what cost? Jace is 11, and I would be too immersed in school/work to really be there for him. Dave and I have worked on our relationship, but this would definitely rachet up the stress level. So when I made the decision that I am not going back to school, it was with a sense of peace, and knowledge that this IS the best thing for me, and my family. And I've definitely not regretted or second-guessed myself about it... it feels so GOOD to not do that.

This past year I've been busy in the kitchen, for the first time ever; learning to cook has been so fun for me, and something I'm really proud of! I've blogged about it quite a bit, both the humorous part of it (how my family can't believe I can actually cook!) and the emotional part of it (my mom and what a great cook she was)and I'm looking forward to learning more this year. One thing that I need to focus on is some healthy but yummy meals; my BIL Luke got me a couple of great cookbooks for Christmas, so that's where I'll start.

Those are some of the things that have made 2009 such a transitional year for me. Honestly, I think I've changed more this year, at age 38, than I have in any other year in my adult life. I told my boss the other day that I'm not sure what has changed in me this year, but that I've seen a shift in SO many parts of my life that it can't be a coincidence. I'm looking at things at work differently than I used to, and seeing different and better results because of it. I've seen similar things in my efforts at home, and in my relationships.

It would be easy to chalk these changes up to a growing maturity on my part, but that's not the main or only answer. A big part of the changes this year have been a change in my heart, and in opening myself up to what God wants for me, instead of thinking that I have all the answers and all of the control. I've been a Christian all my life, and have gone to church, and prayed, and said that I believe in God's hand in my life, but I've never really felt like I've seen it at work. But this year, I gradually started realizing that this was part of the change I was seeing. And the more I was open to it, the more change I saw, and the more PEACE and growth I felt. I was in a training at church for leading small groups a few weeks ago, and one of the assistant pastors talked about his experience years before and how he had waited for God to speak to him, and thought it would be some BIG thing... but he discovered that it isn't, that God talking to us is often just that small voice, that nudge, that thing that we often chalk up to coincidence. As I listened to what he said, even though I've heard that before, it was so true for me - I've seen God at work in my life this year, and it is so exciting to me that I want to see more.

So I begin this new year with both peace and excitement in my heart, and a focus on life that I've never truly had before. My prayer is that I continue to be open to what God wants in my life, for me, my husband, and my family. I don't know what all that will entail, but I'm looking forward to the journey.

We are in Florida right now, enjoying some time with the kids and my sis Ann and her hubby Matt. It was a quiet New Year's Eve, very nice. Will post pics soon, we are going out to the beach in a few minutes to let Jace get in the water on the boogie board for just a FEW minutes. He's been dying to get out there, even though it is chilly while we are here. Happy New Year! More soon on some new year resolutions!